As we continue to provide support to Action Against Hunger, we get excited to hear stories of their distribution trips to Africa, learning about the children they have saved with the supplement meals your purchase has provided. Here is another such story, one beginning with tragedy and ending with smiles and success.
On the day we visited the health center in Tambaga, Burkina Faso, the temperatures topped 100 degrees. Around 50 mothers gathered in the sweltering heat, waiting for their children to be weighed and measured by the health center staff. There were no chairs, so all of the mothers sat together on colorful blankets spread out on the floor with their babies on their laps. One by one, each mother took her baby for a check-up and received a booklet containing her child’s health information.
When Miara arrived with her mother Yonli, the health center staff had been waiting for her—she had already been malnourished once and struggled during recovery, so the health workers were monitoring her progress closely.
Miara looked very ill. Underneath her brightly-colored dress, her arms and legs looked very thin, highlighting how malnourished she was. It was hard to believe this tiny girl was two years old.
The team members rushed to weigh her and found she weighed an alarming 11 pounds. They took her to the Center for Recuperation and Nutrition Education (CREN) in the city of Diapaga so she could get the help she needed. Action Against Hunger built the CREN hospital and continues to support it, providing funds, equipment and medicine, and training and monitoring staff members.
Getting help at the hospital
We arrived at the CREN hospital, where Miara was being measured by the hospital staff. They checked her for malaria, which thankfully she didn’t have. They advised Yonli and Miara to stay overnight. Families often stay for a week or so if their child is severely malnourished. The child is given medicine, therapeutic milk, and ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) in the form of a nutrient-dense paste. The hospital also provides food and lodging for the mother so she can stay with her child during treatment. The cost is covered by us. At any one time, the CREN hospital hosts up to 60 children.
While the children receive treatment, water and sanitation staff teach the mothers about hygiene, which is often one of the biggest factors that can lead to malnutrition. They demonstrate how to wash a child’s hands, face, and backside properly to prevent diarrheal disease, which is one of the leading causes of malnutrition and mortality among children under five years old. They also teach mothers about the importance of clean water and a diverse diet.
The doctors and nurses checked up on Miara later and were happy with her progress—she was starting to eat the RUTF, and the treatment was working. She would stay for another few days.
As we were saying our goodbyes to Yonli and her daughter, Miara gave us a small hint of a smile. Up until this moment, we hadn’t seen her express happiness at all—just pain, distress, and tears. Our goodbye was a lovely moment, because it gave us hope for a future in which Miara would be strong, healthy, and happy.
Stories like Miara’s are all too common in Uganda and many other poverty-stricken countries in Africa. Luckily, Action Against Hunger is there to provide the treatment they need to make a full recovery and go on to live happy, healthy lives. Give Activewear is proud to support these children with your help, as each item you purchase provides between 8-15 supplement meals that literally save the lives of these beautiful children.